Wednesday, November 3, 2010

People hate higher taxes--except for all of those taxes they keep voting for

Whatever the reasons for the GOP dominance of the 2010 mid-term elections, a common refrain was that people hate higher taxes. But according to the Center for Transportation Excellence, that's not quite true. Seventy-seven percent of transportation related ballot measures passed nationwide in 2010. From the press release:
Two counties in Virginia approved bonds totaling over $150 million to support the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s Capital Improvement Program. In Rhode Island, more than 70% of voters approved a statewide measure for $4.7 million to purchase and rehabilitate buses for the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority. Overall, 75% of bond measures were approved yesterday.
Property tax increases or renewals were successful in four Michigan jurisdictions, two West Virginia cities and two counties in Ohio. Overall, this was both the most popular type of finance measure on the November ballot and the most successful, with an approval rate of 78%.
Five out of seven counties in the San Francisco Bay Area voted to increase vehicle registration fees by $10 to support transportation investments, making vehicle fees a new and noteworthy financing tool, with a 71% success rate.

And California did something about their credible commitment problem:
California voters, statewide, showed support for transportation investment by approving Proposition 22, a constitutional amendment to close loopholes that allowed the state to fill budget gaps with money designated for transportation.

The transportation ballot results are not unique. Local taxes are popular all over according to this AP story:
"We're talking about funding services that are more tangible to voters, and what happens in the elections has a lot more to do with local realities than it does with anything happening on the national level," said Michael Coleman, fiscal policy adviser to the League of California Cities.

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